Vital MTB reviews antiFOG

Vital MTB on RYDERS antiFOG

I don’t know what it is, but I swear my eyeballs are magnets for crap when I am out on a ride. I’ve had bugs, mud, dust, hair, my own fingers, and some close calls with branches. It’s never fun calling a timeout halfway down some rad descent for an eyeball check or to try irrigating out my eye with a water bottle. Talk about a buzz kill. Therefore, I am a rider who pretty much always rides with glasses. Then I also face the age-old problem of fogged lenses, especially on the climbs. There are different shapes of glasses that work better than others for me while trying to avoid complete foggage, but it still happens. Usually the glasses are off for the climbs and then I’ll whip them out for a descent. Gee, life is sure complicated sometimes, isn’t it? Well, queue music and enter stage right Ryders Eyewear. Ryders has accepted the challenge of trying to beat the fog and make glasses that can be worn for the entire ride.

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To successfully defeat a foe they say one must “know thy enemy”, so here is a bit of nerdism about fogging. Fogging is the result of water in the hot air coming off your sweaty face condensing in teeny-tiny droplets on the cooler surface of your glasses. The hotter and sweatier you get, the worse this condensation gets. Fogging also increases as the relative humidity of your riding day increases. The surrounding air is already full of water so the more you put into it between your face and glasses, the more readily it will condense on your lenses. These tiny droplets wreak havoc with light, scattering it and you can’t see a darn thing. It’s the same reason clouds are white.

Anti-fog agents and treatments aim to prevent condensation by minimizing the surface tension on the lenses. As a result, water doesn’t condense into droplets but spreads out into a film that is easier to see through. The term for this effect is wetting. Think of it this way since we’ve all likely been there. Put a bunch of high school kids in the gym for a school dance and play crappy music. The crappy music we will liken to a higher surface tension, and it makes all the kids bunch together in their cliques to chat about how uncool the dance is. Change the music, minimize surface tension, those groups break apart, and everyone starts dancing in a giant mass together across the dance floor. 

Ryders’ approach to defeating fog is their antiFOG technology. Ryders antiFOG is a hydrophilic (water-loving) layer embedded into the inside of the lens. This minimizes surface tension by essentially sucking up the water to produce wetting inside the lens rather than fogging. It’s similar to how a rain jacket that isn’t waterproof anymore soaks up water. Unlike a treatment added to the lenses after they are made, the Ryders embedded antiFOG is washable and permanent.

That’s enough geeking out and background for now. I’m not a science teacher. I’m a mountain biker with some Ryders sunglasses that tout awesome anti-fogging ability. It’s time to do some riding and check them out.

Highlights

  • Polycarbonate Lenses: Shatterproof and Optically Correct
  • Permanent, Washable Anti-Fog Layer Embedded onto Back of Lens
  • Front of Lens Features Hydrophobic Technology to Repel Water
  • Photochromic Lenses Adapt to Light Conditions, Changing Tint Accordingly
  • TR90 Frames: Ultra-Durable and Flexible
  • Adjustable Nose Pads
  • Anti-Slip Hydrophilic Nose Pads and Temple Tips
  • Medium Fit
  • Colors: Light Grey Anti-Fog Photochromic Lens and Matte Black Frame
  • Weight: 26g
  • MSRP: $129.99 USD

Initial Impressions

Ryders has a number of sunglass options featuring their antiFOG lenses. I decided to give the Strider model a go. They have flexible nose pads and temples so they can be molded to fit my face. I have a small nose and a not-so prominent bridge. Yes, I’ve heard it called cute and button (eye roll), but my nose makes wearing glasses a little more complicated, and this is part of my issue with fogging. There usually isn’t much room for airflow between my face and the lenses. In fact, if I don’t curl my lashes back, they rub on all my glasses. The molding of these nose and temple pieces was easy, though not so easy that they felt like they might lose the memory of how I molded them.

Looking at the overall construction of the glasses, it didn’t look like all the efforts went into the lenses and the rest got skimped on. The hinges for the temple arms weren’t too loose or too stiff. When the temple pieces were folded in, they didn’t hit the lenses so they aren’t a danger to themselves. The frame also had some flexibility, and the plastic didn’t make crackling noises like it might break as I flexed it. The Anti-Slip temple pads were nested together inline with the rest of the frame. These material transitions on the temple arms don’t snag on my hair while putting the glasses on or taking them off. The Anti-Slip nose pad was attached to the frame with a couple of tiny screws. It felt well attached and had a bit of spring to it so it could move a little but wouldn’t change from where I bent it to fit my nose.

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In addition to the antiFOG coating, these glasses also have photochromic lenses. These lenses change from clear to grey as the day gets brighter. More science. A simple explanation is that there are millions of special molecules in the lenses and as ultraviolet (UV) light hits them, they undergo a chemical process changing their shape. Imagine that these molecules are like umbrellas at the beach. As the sun gets more intense, more umbrellas open up to shade the sand below. As the sun becomes weaker and weaker, more and more umbrellas close letting light pass by them.

The lenses can also be popped out and swapped with other Strider lenses. Ryders includes a firm, molded case with a zippered closure. This will come in handy, because I do try to take good care of my glasses. Key word there is that I try. It doesn’t always work out. Sigh.

On The Trail

Lucky me, not to brag, or at least not too much, I tested these glasses while on vacation in New Zealand. Woo hoo! Our trip started on the South Island in Queenstown. As soon as we got off the plane and had our bikes built, we were headed out for the trail. During this sunny afternoon ride on Coronet peak the glasses showed off their photochromatic power. We were spoiled enough to have a shuttle driver so I didn’t put the antiFOG to the test this time climbing.

Our other Queenstown rides were in the trees at the Seven Mile trail system and the Skyline Bike Park. On these days the photochromic molecules struggled to keep up with dark/bright light transitions while going in and out of treed areas. I started pocketing the glasses for the gondola rides, putting them on just as I was dropping in on the trails so they were mostly clear. I also started experiencing the antiFOG action while climbing out at Seven Mile. I noticed it just in the outside edge of the lenses by my cheeks. But this definitely wasn’t fog. It appeared as a slight blur or distortion.

After Queenstown, we made our way north to Christchurch to visit my BFF from college. Here we continued enjoying sunshine. My most profound memory from one of our big rides there was when my friend was asked where her sunglasses went. She said they had fogged and she had taken them off. My thoughts then were, “Holy crap, I’m wearing glasses!” I would normally have had fogging after a climb like that too. Instead I had clear, unfogged views of the blue ocean, rolling hills, and fluffy sheep the entire ride.

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Next we headed inland to Craigieburn Forest Park. Here we finally ran into some rain. Our ride up the mountain, into the mist and rain, was serenaded by the most amazing songbirds. And I couldn’t see a dang thing. Apparently there is a limit to what science can do, and I found it for Ryders antiFOG on this ride. It wasn’t the white hazy fog you’re likely accustomed too though. It was like my eyes were full of tears or I was swimming just under the surface of a pool looking up through the water. Granted, we were practically riding in a cloud where the air was so saturated with water, the antiFOG was probably maxed out before I even got warmed up. I imagine that the hydrophilic layer is like a parking lot and water condensation goes in the parking spots. There is a point where there are no more parking spots. Wiping out the lenses can reset the Ryders antiFOG like emptying the parking lot. This worked in the Queenstown Seven Mile trails, but here in the clouds it was just too wet. The lenses were blurry again in less than five minutes after wiping them off. Drat.

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The lenses also have a hydrophobic (water-hating) layer on the outside of the lenses. This makes the water bead up so it can roll off and keep your line of vision clear. Just like a windshield on a car, it seems to work best when you’re moving quickly. On our climb, when I could see, the small droplets from the mist just stuck to the outside of the lenses. I was clearly fighting a losing battle. The rest of the ride across the scree fields and down through the beech tree forest was completed without glasses.

After too few days adventuring the South Island we hopped on the ferry and sailed up to the North Island where we beelined to Rotorua for Crankworx. Rotorua was a jungle, and again the foliage was so dense that when diving in after being out in the open, I was riding in the dark waiting for the photochromatic lenses to catch up. They would, eventually, it just took a few minutes. Here we mostly had sunshine and some decent humidity while in the forest. I had a little bit of blurring on the climbs but could keep it at bay by taking off the glasses when we would stop or by wiping them off.

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On a large group ride, as we stopped to regroup you could see steam coming off everyone in the morning sun. One fellow said his glasses were completely fogged and chucked them into the bushes in exasperation. He later picked them up and pocketed them for the rest of the climb after expressing his frustration. The Ryders antiFOG lenses were clearly doing better than whatever he had.

Things That Could Be Improved

I don’t have any issues with the Ryder’s antiFOG. I bet if I had a pair of glasses on with one regular lens and one antiFOG lens, the difference would be very clear (watch this video to see). In my experience, while other riders in my company were ditching their glasses, I wasn’t. There are just limitations to what can be achieved when trying to cheat physics, and Ryders certainly gave it a good run for its money.

For me, the fit of the Strider glasses was pretty good thanks to the adjustability features of the nose and temples. They stayed on my face and only rarely did I feel that I wanted to give them a little push up my nose, and it wasn’t very far. The only thing that was a bit weird was that the top of the frame touches my eyebrows. But hey, that might just be my face compared to anyone else’s.

Long Term Durability

As long as the owner takes care to keep the glasses from falling under foot, under wheel, or under butt, they will probably last for a while. They feel sturdy enough. Unfortunately the lenses are still easily scratchable, and I already have a number of scratches on my lenses. It looks like I must have tried wiping them off when there was some grit on them. Poor form. Be sure to give the lenses a squirt of water first to blast off any grit before wiping them off.

I haven’t experienced it yet, but photochromics are known to eventually run out of ability to change from light to dark a few years or so down the line. To anyone not aware, you’ve been warned. At least the lenses are easily replaceable.

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What’s The Bottom Line?

Overall I’m impressed with the Ryders Strider glasses and their antiFOG technology. They did a fantastic job of keeping fog at bay on most days, which is something I’ve struggled with on literally every other pair of glasses. The photochromic feature is also very convenient, allowing you to start a ride while the sun is up and and keep them on after sunset. That’s the real beauty of them – being able to keep the glasses on for the whole ride without worry about fog or being too light/dark.

Since science isn’t actually magic, there are limitations to what can be done, and rainy days or rides where you’re diving in and out of direct sunlight and deep forest can still be a fruitless battle. In the end though, I would still recommend the Ryders antiFOG line of glasses to anyone. They’re the best thing going.

Visit www.ryderseyewear.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen has been hitting the dirt on two wheels since 2007 when she started riding mountain bikes in college. She raced alongside her collegiate cycling team in every event from XC and short track to downhill and mountain cross, scoring several podiums, fist pumps and shiny medals along the way. A dream trail for this girl would have lots of down, some fast and flowy, and like the sprinkles on a cupcake, some fun technical sections to keep her on her toes – we’re talking mountain biking after all, not cruising a sidewalk. Courtney currently lives on the road with her boyfriend in a 5th wheel toy hauler loaded with bikes, traveling from one mountain bike mecca to the next in search of the best trails North America has to offer. Anytime she’s on a bike and in the dirt, she has two thumbs up and a big smile.